As the Lone Star State capital, Austin is home to a multitude of exciting things to do. But sometimes you need to get away from it all and enjoy the great outdoors. And what could be a better way to reconnect with nature than a camping trip?
The area around Austin in Central Texas is known as the Texas Hill Country. It hosts limestone and granite rocks, rolling hills, open grasslands, juniper and oak tree forests, and flowing rivers. In other words, camping heaven!
Whether you’re looking for primitive tent camping sites or full-hookup RV spots, you’re bound to find the perfect spot near Austin.
In this guide, we’ll go through our top 15 campgrounds, their amenities, and what there is to do for fun at each site.
Table of Contents
- 1. McKinney Falls State Park
- 2. Pace Bend Park, Lake Travis
- 3. Arkansas Bend Park
- 4. Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area
- 5. Emma Long Metropolitan Park
- 6. Pedernales Falls State Park
- 7. Jim Hogg Park
- 8. Cedar Breaks Park
- 9. Tejas Camp on Lake Georgetown
- 10. Guadalupe River State Park
- 11. Inks Lake State Park
- 12. Lake Bastrop South Shore Park
- 13. Lake Bastrop North Shore Park
- 14. Bastrop State Park
- 15. Lockhart State Park
- Best Camping Near Austin!
1. McKinney Falls State Park
At only 10 miles away, McKinney Falls State Park is the closest campground on this list to Austin. This 641-acre Texas state park is located on the southern edge of the city limits and just a short drive from downtown Austin.
The park has a ton of activities to keep you busy including hiking, biking, bouldering, swimming, and fishing in the creek.
There are almost 9 miles of hiking and biking trails meandering through Texas Hill Country woods, including one that leads to a historic homestead and an ancient rock shelter.
Here, Onion Creek flows over limestone rocks, creating the park’s namesake waterfall, with pools both above and below the falls. The best part is that both Upper and Lower Falls pools are open for swimming making it the perfect spot to cool off in the Texas heat.
Onion Creek is prone to flooding closures, so contact the park for current conditions before your visit.
McKinney Falls State Park hosts 81 campsites with water and electric hookups for RVs. The campground amenities feature an RV dump station, hot showers, and restrooms with flushing toilets. The historic park also has six rustic cabins available for rent with air conditioning and a kitchenette.
McKinney is one of the most popular parks, and the campground fills up quickly. Make reservations ahead of time online or by calling 512-389-8900.
2. Pace Bend Park, Lake Travis
Pace Bend Park is a 1,368-acre park with over 9 miles of shoreline along Lake Travis in west Travis County, located 24 miles northwest of Austin, TX.
The area is known for its limestone cliffs, rocky coves, and incredible views of Lake Travis – a popular boating destination.
The park’s interior is a wildlife preserve with multi-use trails only accessible by hiking, biking, or horseback riding. For a scenic drive or bike ride, take the 6-mile road that loops around the park. The park is home to deer, raccoons, foxes, ringtail cats, and multiple bird species, making it the perfect spot for wildlife viewing.
If you’re ready to hit the beach, check out the park’s designated swimming coves with lapping waves and sandy shores. Other aquatic activities at Pace Bend Park include fishing, and boating.
This park has multiple camping areas, including some on the bluffs with views of Lake Travis.
Of the more than 400 primitive campsites, only about 45 are currently open due to ongoing rehabilitation efforts. These tent-only primitive campsites don’t have access to water or electricity, but do have pit toilets.
If you’re looking for a drive-in site with more amenities, Pace Bend Park also has 20 improved campsites. These sites feature RV hookups (water and electricity), a dump station, showers, and restrooms. Most of the improved campsites along the border of the park are reached by car and have picnic tables, barbecue grills, and fire rings.
Reservations are highly recommended for the improved campsites, but the primitive sites are first-come, first-served. For reservations, call 512-854-7275.
3. Arkansas Bend Park
Arkansas Bend Park is a 38-mile drive northwest of Austin in the Lago Vista area of Travis County. This tranquil park has 323 acres with two miles of shoreline access on the north side of Lake Travis.
The park’s main activities are hiking, fishing, and boating. Shaded tables are scattered along the point above the rocky waterfront for picnics and grilling.
This camping area has 18 recently renovated campsites with water and electrical hookups, an RV dump station, picnic tables, grills, fire rings, and restrooms. Collecting firewood is illegal here, so be sure to bring your own.
The limited campsites at this park make reserving online key to getting a spot.
4. Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area
Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area is a 654-acre park with shady oak trees on the shores of Lake Travis. It’s located near the city of Spicewood, about 39 miles from Austin.
The recreation area has over 10 miles of multi-use trails for hiking and horseback riding, and even technical trails for mountain biking.
Water activities include boating, paddling, and fishing in Lake Travis. Luckily, there’s no need to haul your kayak here since they offer kayak and paddle board rentals for use on the lake.
Muleshoe’s campground features 41 campsites with amenities including picnic tables and grills, with outdoor showers and flushing toilets at the park entrance. They even have a 24-hour ice machine for refilling your cooler!
Bluebonnet blooming season from late March to mid-May is a popular time to visit and see the flowers. Reservations are recommended during this period.
5. Emma Long Metropolitan Park
Also known as City Park, Emma Long Metropolitan Park is only 13 miles west of Austin and one of the city’s most accessible parks and has a prime location on the shores of Lake Austin.
It’s known for its “beach” area where locals flock during the summer to take a refreshing dip and spend the day lounging on the water on floaties.
Not into lounging around? Bring a ball and practice some shots at the basketball half-court or catch a game of volleyball at one of the park’s three volleyball courts. One of the nice things about this park is the reservable picnic tables which are perfect for group events.
Emma Long Metropolitan Park offers both primitive and premium campsites with different levels of amenity facilities. The primitive hike-in sites at Grove don’t have any amenities and are perfect for those looking to disconnect. The drive-in sites at the Bluff camping area have toilets and communal water fill.
6. Pedernales Falls State Park
They say everything’s bigger in Texas and this 5,212-acre park is no exception. Pedernales Falls State Park is about an hour’s drive west of Austin in Blanco County.
This state park offers amazing views of Texas Hill Country, a 50-foot waterfall over limestone rock, oak and juniper forests, and grassland, and encompasses nearly 5 miles of the Pedernales River.
There is a plethora of things to do at Pedernales Falls State Park. Activities here include hiking, mountain biking, swimming, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, and fishing.
The park is known for its nearly 20 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. You can climb the canyon trail to the top of Wolf Mountain or cycle the 10 miles of bike trail along Juniper Ridge. End the day with a relaxing dip in Bee Creek’s hidden swimming holes.
Opportunities for encountering wildlife abound. The park is home to javelinas, raccoons, deer, turkeys, and other animals. Make sure to hide your food from the pig-like javelinas, as they are famous for getting into campers’ supplies!
Pedernales has some of the best camping near Austin. There are a total of 69 campsites available at Pedernales Falls. Considered the most coveted primitive camping areas in Hill Country, the backpacking sites are about a 2.5-mile hike out on a bluff over Mescal Creek.
The RV and tent campsites offer water and 30-amp electrical hookups, a fire pit, and restrooms with showers. Be sure to contact the park for current conditions before visiting because the area is prone to floods and closures during storms.
7. Jim Hogg Park
Jim Hogg Park is located on Lake Georgetown’s northern side, about 36 miles north of Austin.
Lake Georgetown is a large reservoir along the North San Gabriel River, near the city of Georgetown. Boating is a popular activity here, along with fishing, paddling, hiking, and biking.
The 26-mile-long San Gabriel River Trail winds through the area’s juniper forests and grasslands. The multi-use trail is ideal for hiking and biking.
Jim Hogg’s 148 campsites provide water and electrical hookups, along with 55’ parking pads, shaded picnic tables, grills, and fire rings. There are both single (up to 8 people) and double (up to 16 people) campsites available, making it perfect for group camping.
Other amenities include an RV dump station, restrooms with flushing toilets, and hot showers.
Camping here is by reservation only. You can reserve online at Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777. The park gates close overnight from 10 pm to 6 am.
8. Cedar Breaks Park
Cedar Breaks Park is also located along the shores of Lake Georgetown. A cedar and juniper forest make up most of this park where activities include boating, hiking, and biking.
One of the best hiking trails near Austin starts off at Cedar Breaks Park. The trail has beautiful views of the lake and access to Crocket Garden Falls. For a longer trail, check out Good Water Trail – a 27-mile loop around the reservoir and along the dam.
The 59 reservable campsites here overlook the lake and most are shaded. Amenities include water and electrical hookups, flushing toilets, showers, picnic tables, grills, and campfire pits. The 55’ parking space at the sites leaves plenty of space for larger trailers and Class A motorhomes.
Note that campers must arrive before the park gates close at 10 pm.
9. Tejas Camp on Lake Georgetown
Tejas Camp is another recreation area near Lake Georgetown. It’s right on the southern bank of the North Gabriel River and has large, grassy fields with trees nearby.
Hiking, biking, boating, fishing, paddling, swimming, and wildlife viewing are the main activities at Tejas Camp. This area has access to both the San Gabriel River Trail and the Georgetown Lake loop trail.
This campground has 11 tent-only sites, plus one large group site with a picnic table, tent pad, and fire ring. There are only a few amenities here, like vault toilets and a centrally-located water fill, but no electricity. Cars are not allowed at the campsites and they must park in the central parking lot.
Camping at Tejas Camp is by reservation only. You can reserve online at Recreation.gov or by phone at 1-877-444-6777.
10. Guadalupe River State Park
Guadalupe River State Park is 81 miles southwest of Austin, but well worth the longer drive. This park stretches 9 miles along the Guadalupe River, with 4 miles of riverfront.
Its shoreline access makes it a popular spot for swimming and tubing. Imagine spending the day relaxing in an inner tube while floating down the river! Just note that styrofoam and glass are prohibited in the river and in the day-use area along the shore.
Other activities here include fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, paddling, biking, horseback riding, and birdwatching. Camping equipment and fishing gear are available for rent at the park.
There are 13 miles of hiking and biking trails at Guadalupe River State Park, with some trails overlooking the water.
For a unique hike, join a guided 2-mile hiking tour to the protected Honey Creek State Natural Area, where you can learn about the local history and environment. For a more challenging and less-developed hiking and biking trail, check out Bauer Unit.
This state park has over 90 campsites: 85 camping sites with water and electricity and 9 walk-in tent sites. The onsite store is stocked with camping supplies like firewood, ice, and snacks.
11. Inks Lake State Park
Inks Lake State Park is about 67 miles northwest of Austin. Surrounded by pink gneiss rocks and oak and cedar trees, the park’s main attraction is the scenic Inks Lake.
There are plenty of things to keep you busy at this park, including hiking, backpacking, swimming, boating, water skiing, fishing, and even scuba diving.
Those looking to go for a swim should visit the Devil’s Waterhole. It’s a swimming hole that forms where Spring Creek flows into Inks Lake. It’s common to see people jump from the ledges into the water here.
There are 9 miles of hiking trails through forests and hills, with a popular hike through the canyon. If paddling is more your speed, rent a kayak, canoe, or paddle boat at the park store. The store also sells camping supplies, like firewood, and snacks.
Inks Lake State Park has almost 200 campsites in total, ranging from primitive walk-in sites to premium RV lakefront spots.
These primitive camping backpacking sites are a 1.5-mile hike out don’t have water access, and there are no fires or pets allowed.
Inks Lake also offers campsites with just water and sites with both water and electricity hookups (some with 50-amp electric hookups for AC). This campground also features a dump station, restrooms, and hot showers.
The park has 22 cabins available for rent for those looking for a bit more comfort while still enjoying the outdoors. This is a busy park and online reservations are recommended.
12. Lake Bastrop South Shore Park
Lake Bastrop is a 900-acre lake with a fishing pier surrounded by water reeds and pine trees. It’s about 37 miles from Austin, TX.
Although it’s mostly known as a fishing lake, Lake Bastrop’s other outdoor activities include hiking, mountain biking, swimming, paddling, and bird watching. Canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards are available for rent onsite.
Tired of the usual camping activities? Then you can play a game of mini golf, rent a pedal cart, play horseshoes, or practice your serving technique at the volleyball court.
Lake Bastrop South Shore Park is a great choice for RVers searching for full hookup campgrounds in the Austin area. The campground has 6 premium full hookup RV sites with water, electricity, and sewage hookups. There are also 32 camping sites with water and electricity hookups and 18 cabins for rent.
Amenities here include restrooms with flushing toilets, a dump station, showers, and a 24-hour ice machine. This park’s camping area is larger than the campground on Lake Bastrop’s north side and it has nicer camping areas and more amenities.
13. Lake Bastrop North Shore Park
Lake Bastrop North Shore Park is a 182-acre park on Lake Bastrop’s northern shore.
Activities here include hiking, biking, swimming, watercraft rentals (canoe, kayak, paddleboard), and fishing. There’s also a camp store selling snacks and souvenirs.
Lake Bastrop’s northern camping area has 11 campsites with water and electric hookups, restrooms with flushing toilets, showers, and an RV dump station.
For a unique camping experience, stay overnight at one of the Airstream trailers available for rent at Lake Bastrop North Shore Park. The glamping trailers feature heating, air conditioning, bathrooms, showers, and a kitchen.
14. Bastrop State Park
Bastrop State Park is about 35 miles east of Austin near the city of Bastrop and Lake Bastrop. This state park has a creek flowing through it and is located in the Lost Pines region.
Lost Pines is a forested area filled with loblolly pines and oak trees. The region was recently affected by forest fires, but it’s currently recovering well with new tree growth.
The park’s activities here include hiking, backpacking, biking, swimming, paddling, and golf. There are also canoes and kayaks for rent, a fishing pond, and a swimming pool. You could also take a scenic bike ride or drive the 12-mile Park Road through the Lost Pines or hike 7 miles of multi-use trails.
There are several types of campsites at the Bastrop State Park campground: walk-in tent sites with water, drive-in campsites with electricity and water, and premium RV sites with full hookups (water, electricity, and sewer).
Campground amenities include a dump station, restrooms, and hot showers. The park also has 12 historic cabins available for rent with space for up to 8 people.
15. Lockhart State Park
Lockhart State Park is conveniently located near the city of Lockhart, about 32 miles south of downtown Austin.
Since this area is known for its excellent barbeque, it’s common to skip a campfire meal for a taste of Texas barbeque at one of the nearby restaurants. Another not-so-common, yet popular camping activity here is golf.
Created in the 1930s, the park is home to a historic 9-hole public golf course. Other activities on offer include fishing in Clear Fork Creek, taking a dip in the swimming pool, and exploring the multi-use trails.
The relaxing Clear Fork Trail has views of the creek, small waterfalls, and dams, while Persimmon Trail is a more challenging option.
There are 20 campsites at Lockhart, and golf clubs and carts are a common sight at this campground. Basic campsites include water and electricity and premium RV sites have full hookups (water, electricity, sewer). The park store sells camping supplies and snacks.
Best Camping Near Austin!
From tubing down the Guadalupe or Colorado River, hiking through Lost Pines, or playing a round of golf at Lockhart State Park, you’re guaranteed to find something for everyone to enjoy near Austin, TX.
Searching for the closest campgrounds to Austin? Take the short drive over to McKinney Falls State Park or Emma Long Metropolitan Park.
For the best backpacking sites, check out Pedernales State Falls or Inks Lake State Park. RVers in need of full hookups should stay at Lockhart State Park, Bastrop State Park, and Lake Bastrop South Shore Park.
Know of any other worthwhile campgrounds in the Austin area? Let us know in the comments below. Feel free to share this list of camping areas with your family and friends!